The Connection Paradox
Is it the ultimate paradox that in order to feel a sense of connection, we disconnect?
It seems that in today’s world of technological connection we are able to connect with friends, family or loved ones anytime, 24/7, at the touch of a button, via Facebook, Skype, Twitter, IM, email, text or phone. And yet, it seems to me that more and more people are feeling a complete sense of disconnect, a sense of deep and utter loneliness.
Back in the days before the World Wide Web, I was an avid letter writer. I have friends and family overseas and I loved to first of all, pick stationary that represented my personality, write a complex, lengthy journal of my current life, and then journey to the post office to send it. What a delight it was to receive a letter with a stamp from some exotic location, with stationary picked out by the person I cared for, to represent their personality, hand written in their writing, which is unique to them. Sometimes the letters would be written in coloured pen, and finished with a sticker, a smiley face or a hand drawn character. The letters displayed something unique to the sender and upon sighting the envelope, I would know who it was from, because it was their unique expression.
Back then, before the World Wide Web, I felt like I was connected to these various people around the country, and the world, because I received a letter from them every few months, something that they had taken time to think on, create and then post to me.
Now, I have the ability to phone them, Facebook them, Skype them, or instant message them whenever I want and yet...I don’t. They are my friends on Facebook and occasionally we may send a 1 or 2 line message, so there is still a superficial layer of connection...but it is not the same. There is nowhere near the level of depth of connection that went into letter correspondence through an intimate, thought out communication. So I have been wondering, what is the difference within the process? Is it because with a letter we had to think through our story, and choose our words carefully, in order to finish in a way we felt proud of? If the message was written quickly and carelessly, the whole letter would need to be thrown away and started again. For me personally, once I decided to write to someone, I would carry that idea with me for a day or two, pondering on what I was going to write, what did I want to share, what thoughts, what feelings, what experiences?
Today with our instant communication, we often don’t think, there is no pondering or reflecting, we simply react and then write as we are reacting, in that moment. On that note, the lack of manners and common courtesy that is now shown in instant communication astounds me. My grandparents and elders would be jumping up and down in horror at the lack of basic decency that seems to pervade our world now. Our ability to be kind and compassionate, our sense of decency, of common courtesy, and basic good manners, seem to all but disappear once we are wearing the invisibility cloak of technology.
I have seen people write things in public forums that are cruel, rude and unbelievably unnecessary, simply because they can. Yet I know that at least some of these people, the ones that I know personally in “real” life would never, ever speak that way, never say such cruel, spiteful things to another living human. The invisibility cloak of the instant connection allows them the façade of thinking that just because they can, that it is their right to do so.
Why do we feel that it is ok to be rude, to let go of our manners, our courtesy and our empathy? Is it because we are “reacting” in the moment rather than responding with care? Why it is ok to slam other people for having an opinion that may differ from ours? When did we become a society of “right” fighters instead of enjoying the flavour of life that comes when one is surrounded by a variety of people, with different feelings and different viewpoints?
Particularly with the introduction of smart phones into our lives, we have the ability to be instantly connected via phone, email, Skype, twitter, Facebook or SMS and yet so many people right now are so desperately lonely. Yes, this still happens, despite having thousands of “friends” on social media and having the ability to be connected to others around the clock. So many people are feeling like they are unheard, unseen, and unimportant and worst of all, feeling like they are all alone. The suicide rates are staggering, and according to Lifeline Australia, there is one suicide attempt every 10 minutes in Australia, which equals a whole lot of suffering, disconnection and unhappiness.
I believe the connection paradox is that in a time in his/herstory, when we are more “connected” than ever before, we are becoming more and more isolated in our every day lives.
So how do we change this state of disconnection in an over connected world?
The paradox is that in order to stop feeling disconnected, we need to step away from technology, turn off the phone, the iPad, the computer, the laptop, the tablet, the TV and get ourselves outside. Go outside in nature, go for a walk every day, sit down on the ground, on the earth, close your eyes, even if just for moment or two, and allow yourself to just BE. No texts, email, voicemail, twitter, Facebook notifications. Just be still and alone with yourself. Take 3 big deep, slow breaths in and out. Feel yourself connecting to the earth beneath you, the heart centre of the earth, allow yourself to bask in the warmth of our delicious sunshine. Take the time to feel the sunshine radiating throughout your entire body. Gift yourself with the time to feel the slow moving, nurturing earth energy flowing into you, filling you up, and nourishing you.
At first this may seem hard to do, thoughts may come up in a flurry, activities, bills, kids lunches, you name it, and it will come rushing at you the moment you allow yourself to slow down. Don’t fuss, just acknowledge the thought, take a breath and let it flow past, like a river. This is your time to connect. The thoughts will be there again once you go back to being busy, right now though, its time for you, time for BEing.
Once you are feeling connected to both the earth and sun, feeling grounded, centered and radiant, you will be able to feel your connection to the world around you, feel your heart join into the rhythm of the earth. It then becomes possible to recognise that being alone is not about being lonely and that having thousands of cyber “friends” does not equal feeling connected.
Make a plan to turn off your technology for a minimum of 10 minutes every day. I actually dare you to give yourself an entire day without it. Spend time with real people, write a letter, read a book, get outside in nature, have fun.
Life on this beautiful planet of ours is here for us to experience and to share, in real time, and with real relationships. Why not unplug and reconnect to your own heart and find your true self, waiting for you, underneath the artificial layering that technology can create. It is your birth right to feel joyous, loved and one with our earth mother and a part of the great human family. This reconnection allows compassion and empathy to flow back to your life and then flow out to those around you, heart to heart. And isn’t that true connection?